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Regulation of Asian Hedge Funds

March 2004

The U.S. House of Representatives (lower house) passed late last year House Resolution 2420 (Mutual Funds Integrity and Fee Transparency Act) which would require a study on soft dollars and ban managers from jointly running mutual and hedge funds. A similar bill, Senate 1971 (Mutual Fund Investor Confidence Restoration Act), has been introduced in the U.S. Senate (upper house). The Senate bill would also ban the joint management of mutual and hedge funds. Besides the management ban and soft dollar regulation, both bills are more focused on the mutual fund industry than regulating hedge funds.

Even if com prise legislation passes becomes public law in the U.S. this year, it is unlikely to have a major impact on the Asian hedge fund industry. Most of the long only products run by Asian hedge fund managers are not registered in the U.S. and thus unaffected by the potential U.S. legislation.

For the moment the U.S. Congress has let the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) take the lead in any potential hedge fund regulation. The SEC Chairman William Donaldson has spoken about requiring U.S. based hedge funds to register with the SEC, however he has yet to garner the support of the other Republican appointed SEC Commissioners or the Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan. There has also been discussions regarding the role prime brokers play in capital introduction, but the SEC has yet to implement any regulations.

As hedge fund scrutiny has intensified in Washington, DC, the Hong Kong government is taking steps to clarify its position on exempting off-shore funds, including hedge funds, from paying profit tax in the city state (although the specific proposals have recently come under criticism from various industry sectors).

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